State OKs 10% ca­pac­ity for Ravens, Wash­ing­ton games

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Pamela Wood, Daniel Oye­fusi and Talia Rich­man

Mary­land’s col­lege and pro­fes­sional foot­ball teams will be al­lowed to wel­come more fans into their stands for fu­ture games un­der an or­der is­sued Fri­day by Gov. Larry Ho­gan.

“Out­door sport­ing venues” — in­clud­ing the home sta­di­ums of the NFL’s Bal­ti­more Ravens and Wash­ing­ton Foot­ball Team — will be al­lowed to host spec­ta­tors up to 10% of their typ­i­cal ca­pac­ity. That opens the door for the teams to po­ten­tially al­low a few thou­sand fans to watch the re­main­der of their home games.

The or­der rep­re­sents the lat­est eas­ing of re­stric­tions put in place to slow the spread of the coron­avirus, which has in­fected at least 134,000 Mary­lan­ders and killed nearly 3,900 peo­ple in the state.

At re­cent games, the teams have been lim­ited to just 250 spec­ta­tors, al­lo­cat­ing those seats pri­mar­ily to rel­a­tives of play­ers and team staff.

The Ravens said in a state­ment is­sued Fri­day af­ter­noon that they were wait­ing for word from the city be­fore con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing more spec­ta­tors.

“We re­ceived Gov­er­nor Ho­gan’s or­der to­day up­dat­ing lim­its for out­door sport­ing venues, which would al­low up to 10% of to­tal ca­pac­ity. We have con­tacted Mayor [Bernard C. “Jack”] Young’s of­fice to dis­cuss Gov­er­nor Ho­gan’s or­der,” the team said in the state­ment.

A spokesman for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the mayor plans to dis­cuss the or­der with the city health com­mis­sioner next week. Be­cause the Ravens are away this week­end, he has some time to make a de­ci­sion — though his ad­min­is­tra­tion in­di­cated he could be open to it. As with past state or­ders, lo­cal lead­ers main­tain the author­ity to keep stricter rules in place.

“We are aware of the gov­er­nor’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der and are work­ing with com­mu­nity stake­hold­ers to ac­com­mo­date these new ad­just­ments safely for all res­i­dents and vis­i­tors of Bal­ti­more City,” wrote the mayor’s spokesman, James Bent­ley, in a state­ment.

Ho­gan’s an­nounce­ment once again came as a sur­prise and sent city of­fi­cials scram­bling on a Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“It would be great if he ei­ther in­cluded us in his plan­ning or, at the very least, briefed us ahead of time,” Bent­ley said.

The Ravens’ next home game is Nov. 1 against the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers.

Ravens coach John Har­baugh said Mon­day that he and the team missed hav­ing a crowd of fans cheer­ing them on in per­son.

“I just want to say, we miss our fans,” Har­baugh said. “We have a great fan base; that sta­dium would’ve been rock­ing and rolling [Sun­day], and they would’ve been fired up for what they saw.”

If the NFL teams go for­ward with invit­ing more spec­ta­tors, those fans will not be al­lowed to tail­gate and will be re­quired to wear masks and prac­tice so­cial dis­tanc­ing. They must re­main in their seat, though guid­ance from health of­fi­cials notes: “Spec­ta­tors may cer­tainly stand so long as they do not leave their seats.”

M&T Bank Sta­dium in Bal­ti­more holds about 71,000 fans and FedEx Field in Lan­dover has a ca­pac­ity of about 80,000.

The or­der also al­lows high school and col­lege games at out­door sta­di­ums to ad­mit up to 25% ca­pac­ity, un­der cer­tain con­di­tions.

The col­lege teams must al­low only stu­dents and staff of the home team to at­tend the game, and must show that they are test­ing at least 15% of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion weekly with a pos­i­tiv­ity rate of less than 0.25% for the two weeks be­fore the game.

Tail­gat­ing is pro­hib­ited and masks, tem­per­a­ture checks and so­cial dis­tanc­ing are re­quired.

The Naval Academy is the first lo­cal col­lege to start a fall sea­son, which they be­gan with no fans in the stands. They were given per­mis­sion this month to bring the 4,000-mem­ber Brigade of Mid­ship­men into Navy-Ma­rine Corps Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

For the Mids’ next home game against the Univer­sity of Hous­ton on Oct. 24, the academy has been pre­par­ing for only the mid­ship­men to at­tend, with­out any other fans or spec­ta­tors.

The Univer­sity of Mary­land plans to play foot­ball this fall, with the first home Terps game sched­uled for Oct. 30 against the Univer­sity of Min­nesota.

Any change to fan at­ten­dance at Mary­land Sta­dium will be an­nounced first by the Big Ten Con­fer­ence. As part of the Big Ten’s de­ci­sion to play this fall, it an­nounced that it wouldn’t be al­low­ing the sale of tick­ets to the gen­eral pub­lic. This con­trasts with the other Power 5 con­fer­ences cur­rently play­ing, as they have al­lowed fans to be ad­mit­ted so long as lo­cal and state ju­ris­dic­tions have given their ap­proval.

The Univer­sity of Mary­land does not cur­rently meet the thresh­old of a 0.25% pos­i­tiv­ity rate. For the week of Oct. 4-10, the univer­sity’s coron­avirus dashboard re­ported a pos­i­tiv­ity rate of 1.0%, which in­cludes only tests ad­min­is­tered by the univer­sity, and not any tests of stu­dents or staff con­ducted by off-cam­pus doc­tors or clin­ics.

Ho­gan’s lat­est or­der also al­lows large “out­door en­ter­tain­ment venues” — those with a typ­i­cal ca­pac­ity of more than 2,500 peo­ple — to open with up to 10% ca­pac­ity.

PAMELA WOOD/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Gov. Larry Ho­gan is­sued an or­der Fri­day al­low­ing Mary­land’s col­lege and pro­fes­sional foot­ball teams to host spec­ta­tors up to 10% of their typ­i­cal ca­pac­ity.

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